This incident caught me unaware, even after all I’d learned from hard experience...
Often when I was travelling, I would visit a church service.
More often than not, I would seek out an Assemblies of God Church.
They felt safe and welcoming. I found them to be more earnest and sincere
than many others.
I had found along the way that many non-denominational churches could be creepy. Someone would invariably be drawn to me, hungry for more than fellowship.
I had learned to keep some distance, sad to say…
But this incident caught me unaware, even after all I’d learned from hard experience.
I seated myself toward the back of the sanctuary and kept to myself, as usual.
I was just passing through. There was no need to get to know these people or be involved. I wouldn’t be filling out a visitors card or answer any personal questions.
I would just slip in and out without anyone noticing me. I was just there
The service was typical for a Wednesday evening. Nothing to get excited about,
but sufficient. It was good enough for the occasion.
As I was slipping out of the church as the service concluded, I was surprised
to find a woman pursuing me to my car. She rather anxiously introduced herself
as the church secretary. She noted that I was a newcomer and wanted to welcome me back.
I thanked her and explained that I was just passing through.
That should have been enough…
She pressed me further, explaining that the pastor had taken special notice
of me and had sent her to invite me for tea with the two of them...just a hand
of fellowship since I might be feeling alone on the road.
I wasn’t especially inclined to do that sort of thing, but you never know…
it could be an interesting hour.
She was visibly relieved when I said yes.
She quickly offered to have me ride with them since I was unfamiliar with their town.
I just as quickly replied that I would rather take my own car.
I wondered why I was so quick and emphatic…I appeared distrustful of them.
She tried again…fairly insisting.
I stuck to my guns on instinct…but questioned and criticized myself for my independent, resistant attitude. I told myself I should be more friendly…more Christian.
I fell short. Too late. I couldn’t help myself.
She looked disappointed but she gave in finally.
I followed them to the restaurant. Introductions were made, we ordered tea
and pie and we chatted lightly for a few minutes while we waited for our dessert.
Then the secretary excused herself for a moment to take a phone call.
She hurried back and informed us that she needed to go home right away to take care of a family emergency. She would just catch a cab…not to worry, she told ‘Pastor John’.
She rushed out the door with apologies.
I felt a moment’s discomfort as I sat across from the minister.
This was not the arrangement that I had anticipated. I tried to assure myself that everything was alright, but I felt strangely uncomfortable.
I chalked it up to my general shyness and nervousness around men.
I tried to quell my feelings.
After all…it doesn’t get much safer than an Assemblies pastor.
I could not have been more wrong!
Little did I anticipate the events that followed...
All of a sudden the pastor reached across the table and took my arm as he started to tell me how lonely he was, how he needed a godly wife, how he had noticed me from the pulpit. His pressure on my arm increased and in moments, I was held in a grip from which I could not escape. Then with his other hand he reached for my leg under the table and I realized in horror that he was groping me under my skirt!
His face remained impassive, friendly… he was practiced at this!
By now he was leaving bruises on my arm, letting me know there would be no escape.
I was paralyzed with shock, unable to speak or move, yet I knew that I had to break away before anything worse happened.
Thank God I had come in my own car! I would have been at his mercy if I hadn’t.
When I looked in his eyes I saw a kind of madness and frenzy.
It chilled me to the bone!
He was like a ravening monster… in shepherd’s clothing.
That did it! My anger finally broke through my fear!
There was no second guessing what was going on now!
This was not a lonely man! This was a predator!
Suddenly my mind started working again.
My adrenaline surged, my mind cleared and I knew what to do next.
I forced myself to relax, smiled at him and went limp for a moment…just long enough for him to let his guard down and think I might go along with his plan.
In the next moment, I gave a furious wrench of my arm and broke free of his grip.
I ran for the door in such a way that he would not dare follow in sight
of all the surprised diners.
I ran to my car, locked myself in, started the engine and raced out of sight.
Then I parked in a safer place, turned off the headlights and pulled myself together.
Why had this happened to me? How exactly did I fall prey to this?
I felt so betrayed…so violated.
It was like a snatch and grab or a hit and run accident.
'No!' I realized moments later. Nothing about what had just happened was accidental!
It was every bit intentional!
As the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, I realized that they had set me up.
At the pastor’s instigation, his secretary played her part in the scheme.
A trap had been set for me…
He spotted me, alone and a stranger, innocent, possibly vulnerable.
Hard to trace, likely to move on in shocked silence...
And that is what I did unfortunately...
I cannot recall the name of the church or its location.
In those early days I was still recovering and too weak to do more than ensure
my own self-preservation.
Today I would tell you where it took place . I would name names to help protect
other unsuspecting women and parishioners.
It was subtle in the moment…but so obvious later.
As I thought about it, it became clear that they had worked hand in hand like this many times. She played her part flawlessly. A wave of revulsion swept over me.
How could a woman be duped into such a thing?! A church secretary, no less...
What kind of hideous denial was she in? How could a pastor be so depraved?
How does a person live with himself and continued to call himself a man of God?!
I would like to say that this was an isolated instance, but in the years that followed, I have discovered many such unholy alliances.
Foolish women guarding the fort for pedophiles, gay pastors with unsuspecting wives and families, cheating, alcoholic, thieving shepherds of blind sheep.
They are charged with threatening off all intruders, aiding and abetting their cover-ups.
One church secretary I know was told in rather stark terms that "Your job is to make me look good!" Her pastor remains one of the worst offenders at large.
Why did she blind herself to all that she had seen over the years?
“Well," she said, “when my husband was sick, he asked the congregation to take up a collection to help with our medical expenses”.
"Oh, I see."
For this, she overlooks gay sex, infidelity, coercion, blackmail, pedophilia, drug use and more…much more. She rather proudly, if not foolishly, vaunts herself as the great pastor's personal assistant.
There are none so blind as those who will not see...